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DIY Platform Bed: Upholstering the Headboard

Let’s upholster a headboard, shall we? Maybe try to end up with something like this?
DIY upholstered headboard: white with nailhead
(Psst – If you missed the first part of this project, start here.)

Let’s talk about headboard upholstery. I told you a little bit about this before, and basically warned you to

run for your freakin’ life, save yourself while you still can and not ever, ever attempt this crazy feat.

I retract those words. You can do this, but you’ll need:

  • The MOST hardcore staple gun. The kind that will punch other staple guns in the face, then laugh at them and eat all their candy. We like this one*.
  • Patience
  • A willing partner, preferably one who owes you at least 27 favors and also loves that amazing feeling of accomplishing something that’s kind of hard and terrible.
  • Heavy upholstery fabric – not the cheap clearance stuff that isn’t made for upholstery like I used last time. This* is what I’m using this time, but I bought it from Joann on sale with a coupon.
  • Either alcohol or the darkest of dark chocolates or the creamiest of cheese dips, or other weapon of choice.
  • Motivational music. Think Chariots of Fire. In fact, the whole time you read this post, have Chariots of Fire playing in your head, and you’ll feel like instead of building a bed, we’re changing the world, one staple at a time. Because we are.

1. Lay all your junk on the floor.

Muslin first, batting on top of muslin, headboard face down on top of all that.
how to upholster a headboard

Please stop looking at the sock foot in this photo.

2. Fold the muslin along the bottom of the headboard and staple in a nice straight line.


3. Staple along the top of the headboard.

We found it easiest to stand the headboard up and staple starting in the center, over the rounded part. Work your way down the side, pulling that crap with all your might. (Alternatively: watch your husband pull the fabric and compliment him on his strong, bulging muscles.)

As you work around the curves, cut little “v” shapes in the fabric so you can pull it in the right direction. Here’s what I mean by that:
back of an upholstered headboard
Most likely, when you check it out from the front, you’ll have these horrible bunched-up areas around those evil inside curves, and you will probably think you should give up now, or find me and sick your Chuck Norris staple gun on my face. Please resist. (Pretty please.) Because you can fix this.
mistake in upholstered headboard

Definitely not worth getting mad at Kelly over.

Just being real here: you’ll probably need to take some staples out and tug the fabric tighter in spots until you get that top edge looking better. If you’re using a heavy upholstery fabric in the end, you don’t have to worry too much about getting the muslin exactly right.

4. Staple the fabric tightly around the top, then work down both sides.

You’ll probably find as you staple the sides, that the wrinkly bunched-up junk gets better.

5. If necessary, work around the bottom of the headboard again.

We pulled the fabric opposite the wrinkly inside corners to try to smooth them out, then added more staples to the bottom of the headboard, so that the bottom edge looked like this:

This is what it looked like with the muslin finished:

And after we trimmed off the excess from the back:

6. Repeat the process with your upholstery fabric.

This is the part where you’ll want to be my friend again, because you’ll be SO glad you used muslin to start with. Upholstering over the muslin with your pretty fabric will be easy, breezy, beautiful. You’ll probably hear birds chirping and that storm cloud that had been forming over your head will clear away for brilliant rays of sunshine and joy. I felt like this:

Okay, this picture is riDICulous. My photoshop program isn’t working, so this is the best Paint can do for me. Curse you, Microsoft Paint. You’re dead to me.

7. Add embellishments.

I was completely torn over whether to add tufting or nailhead trim like I did last time. In the end, I chose nailhead trim because:

  • I thought with a light-colored fabric, something a little darker and with more contrast would help the bed stand out from the wall better.
  • I liked the idea of a little somethin-somethin metallic.
  • I really wanted to use my leftover nailhead trim from the last bed.

And most importantly:

  • I didn’t have button-cover kits for tufting in my possession at that exact second, and impatience is a major part of my decision-making process.

So nailhead won out.

I used the nailhead trim that comes in one long strip (don’t hate, it’s easier) from this store. I pretty much just eyeballed it with measuring tape, trying to keep the nailhead trim at about 3 inches from the edge.

It didn’t work perfectly. The curve on the top was hard to eyeball, so it didn’t come out right, plus the fabric on the inside edge got moody so I pulled the fabric back tighter and added more staples. Then, we pulled out a few of the bad nailheads and fixed the angle.

Plus, don’t tell anyone, but I ran out of nailheads five seconds from the end, and Andy pointed that on this side, the line was so crooked that it looked like I had been installing nailhead under the influence. (I was just high off the joy I felt when I saw how much I loved the nailhead against this linen fabric.)
However, I could not argue with his assessment. So we pulled some of them back out and straightened them. It looks better now, I think:

Here’s a full view:

Okay. So there’s that. I still want to show you how we made the legs and attached the whole thing together. What do think of how it’s coming along? Are you wondering if it will ever *ever* be finished, and whether we could have just built an entire house in this amount of time? Or is it just me?


Follow along with the whole tutorial on this post!

How to make your own DIY upholstered bed! Complete guide with materials, costs and step-by-step instructions!

*affiliate links

Let's connect


  1. Great job, you guys! I always love a headboard with nail head trims, it makes everything look more polished and luxe! I love the shape of your headboard too, it’s so beautiful!

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.


  2. When is this one going to be for sale on craigslist? 😉 looks awesome and the nailhead trim was definitely the way to go! i love the contrast and the macho look that it gives to the pretty feminine side. awesomesauce!

  3. Wow wow wow wow! This is one of the best DIY “afters” I’ve seen in a long time! Looks awesome!

  4. You are waaaay too hard on yourselves!! It looks beautiful!! Thanks for sharing the instructions – I see another project on my husband’s horizon.

  5. I see you changed the shape slightly, using a bit of a rounded edge rather than having the semi-circle at the top come into right angles. That’s were I am stuck. I came up with the same shape as your original bed and have the batting on, but I’m not sure how to get the fabric in that inside corner. Ugh! Your bed looks wonderful though!

  6. I love the nailhead, just love it!

    Clearly today I just got sucked into your old posts, what did we ever do before LinkWithin? Honestly, it’s such a handy tool. Plus, I love your projects and I can just surf around here ignoring the rest of the blogosphere until my kids wake up and demand to be taken swimming. Oh, I love Fridays!


  7. I am amazed to find someone who had a similar crazy idea. I am so glad to have these instructions before I try my own version. One idea that I thought of while reading about your experiences- is to try and use my artist’s canvas stretching tool- when I make my own headboard. These vice grip like tools have a larger gripping area and I am guessing- could help with all the pulling and tugging that I will have to do to make a smooth headboard, like yours. Yours looks fantastic- great work and thanks for sharing. The canvas stretching tools can be found at art supply stores.

  8. I love your painted vinyl floor and the headboard going to do both and follow your instructions. I have an old house bought as a fixer upper the house was built in 1955 and is in need of lots of up dating. I would like to see all of your remodeling jobs. Please keep me up dated as you go along and do each one. It would help me greatly. So glad I found your web sight with all the how to directions they are wonderful and so budget wise I will be able to do myself. Thank You, Thank You.

  9. Did you make the same bed twice? #whatisgoingon?

    • haha! Yep, we did. We made it in gray once, then sold it on craigslist because I decided I hated the gray (oops) and we thought we could do a much better job the second time, so we made it again (with better instructions) in white.

  10. Hey Kelly, thanks for the push. My wife showed me this post a while ago and asked if we could do the same thing. She’s been wanting a linen headboard with nail head trim for ages it seems.

    I’m a woodworking and mainly blog about woodturning and shop related projects, but thought sharing our headboard build would be a fun! Check it out if you’d like,

    Thanks & have a great day!


  11. Shayna Ferguson says:

    Oh my gosh I think I need to do this project! We went shopping on boxing day and found a headboard like this at one of the furniture stores, and here I thought that we could build our own. So thank you for sharing your pain, as we will probably do the same. PS is your mans name Andy? My mans name is Andy. This project was meant to be!

    • Just a helpful hint. To avoid puckering around curves you must notch your cuts much closer to curve. You will know how close to go after you have tried deeper cuts gradually – when you have come close enough you will see it becomes smooth. Great job!

  12. Great post! You’ve inspired me. My only question is about the headboard. You used plywood, but I don’t see any mention about the reason for the extra pieces of wood attached to the back of the headboard. What are they for? Should I just get thicker plywood?


  13. Bridget Martinez says:

    Love, love, love this… Thankfully I have a very handy and crafty husband also and when I showed him your tutorial he said he could do it lol. We just finished painting our wall a dove gray and I was just looking to do a headboard until I saw your blog. I’m in love and to have him like the bed as much as I do is even better. I can’t wait to get started although I know it’ll take me forever as I have one daughter preparing to leave for college and another in rehab-my step-daughter but she’s my daughter (18 years). I have read most of your blogs including the sex trafficking one. I went back to school to earn a degree in psychology to help young adults with addiction. In my state, we only have 1 all-female long-term treatment facility and another that is males & females. I took a break from school to help with my step-daughter but my ultimate goal is to open a treatment facility.


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